Returning Education to Schools and Parents: News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
April 24, 2017

Returning Education to Schools and Parents

OAKLAND, CA—If President Trump is to fulfill his campaign pledge to stop federal bureaucrats from, as he once put it, “telling you how to manage your children’s education,” then he and Congress will need to drastically slash, if not completely eliminate, the U.S. Department of Education, according to Independent Institute education policy expert Vicki E. Alger, Ph.D., author of the Independent book, Failure: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children.

Although it won’t be politically easy to rein in a cabinet-level agency with nearly 4,400 employees and an annual cost of approximately $70 billion, “such a battle is worth fighting because federal encroachment has stifled local control and undermined effective education,” Dr. Alger writes in Returning Education to Schools and Parents, the latest in the Independent Institute’s Executive Summary series of policy analyses and recommendations.

Dr. Alger’s bold proposal for the Department of Education includes the following steps:

  • Immediately eliminate all non-program offices and divisions. This would save nearly $221 million in base salaries associated with more than 1,900 department employees and another $13.9 billion—money the feds could return to the taxpayers via tax rebates and refunds.
  • Send program management and its funding to the states. As the programs and grants expire (their terms usually last 5 years), the states would decide which ones to renew and fund.
  • Send programs for constitutionally specified activities to other federal agencies. Scholarships for veterans could be transferred to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and programs in the Office of Civil Rights could be continued at the Justice Department. The DC Opportunity Program could be outsourced to qualified non-profit groups.
  • Move information-gathering and research to other federal agencies. The Census Bureau, National Science Foundation, and Justice Department are well-suited for taking over the data-collection and analysis programs currently handled by the Education Department.

Dr. Alger stresses that the ultimate aim of her proposal is not to replace heavy-handed federal involvement in education with overbearing control by state governments. Rather, it is to decentralize authority so that parents can better ensure that their children are properly educated.

“Parents—not distant bureaucrats—are endowed with unalienable rights and responsibilities over their children’s education,” Alger writes. “And children are due the blessings and opportunities that unfold when their schools have the resources, competence, and flexibility to deliver educational excellence.”

Vicki E. Alger, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and the author of Failure: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children. The Independent Institute is a non-profit, research and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. For more information, visit For media inquiries, contact Communications Manager Rob Ade: [email protected] (510) 632-1366, ext. 114.

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